A career night for Jerami Grant under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden as he goes for 44 points on his way to re-write Portland’s history books.
After putting together a positive 3-2 record through their most recent road trip, and after a five-day rest throughout the week, the New York Knicks returned home only to be defeated by the Portland Trail Blazers, 132-129 in overtime.
The Blazers were missing Damian Lillard but that didn’t bother Portland that much by the look of it. It was a night to remember for Anfernee Simons and, most of all, Jerami Grant in the Garden. That is not only because of them getting away with the victory, but because of making actual history in the case of the latter.
Jerami Grant went to the line 28 times against the Knicks on Friday. The Knicks as a whole visited the charity stripe, well, 28 times too. Nobody attempted more than Jalen Brunson’s nine freebies (he hit them all), and although New York finished 24-28 from the free-throw line, Grant scored 21 free-throw points all by himself.
Of course, both marks went straight into the Portland Trail Blazers history books.
Grant finished the game with 44 total points going 10-of-20 from the field and hitting three 3-point shots (seven attempted)although he focused entirely on dropping buckets, pulling down just one defensive rebound and dishing out a couple of dimes over 40 minutes, including OT.
The Blazers, employing an eight-man rotation against the Knicks, had to face New York without Lillard (right calf) while banking on Trent Watford, Nassir Little, and rookie Shaedon Sharpe as their lone off-the-pine players. The three of them logged negative plus/minus figures.
Jerami Grant reached career-high marks from the charity stripe, added his name to both Portland and MSG history books
Grant’s scoring outburst was good enough to give him a new career-high mark in points scored (44 to his prior best of 43 in Feb. 2021 at Chicago). He also etched career figures in made (21) and attempted (28) free-throw shots. Before Friday’s game, Grant had topped at 15 FTA and 14 FTM through his two seasons playing in Detroit.
Those latter two marks entered the Blazers’ history books. Prior to the matchup with the Knicks, Calvin Natt and Kiki Vandeweghe shared the record for most free-throw attempts (22) while donning Portland’s threads. Brandon Roy was in possession of the most free-throw shots made in a single game with 19.
Grant has now written his name in golden letters next to those two entries in the Blazers’ lore.
Although not related to the PDX, Grant also entered the history books of the Mecca of Basketball.
In regular season games played at MSG, only three non-Knicks players had made 20 or more free-throw shots. Listed chronologically: Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant (twice), James Harden, and Joel Embiid.
Grant has now joined that list of virtuosos and joined a select four-man club including players with 21-plus FTM in a single game at MSG: Embiid, Kobe, Harden, and Grant.
Nobody had ever attempted more than 27 free-throw shots (Joel Embiid in Feb. 2022), so Grant is now in possession of the most FTA attempted in MSG history too.
Portland (11-8) sits 5th in the Western Conference standings after Friday’s win over the Knicks. The Blazers are tied with Memphis and New Orleans boasting the same .579 winning percentage, and just one game behind 2nd-best Denver and 1.5 games behind conference-leading Phoenix.
New York dropped below .500 once more and is now 9th with a 9-10 record, sandwiched between Toronto (9-9) at 8th and Brooklyn (9-11) at 10th.
The Blazers and Knicks will face each other again on March 14, 2023, in Portland. Four players share the record for most FTA attempted (21) against the Blazers away from home, while five have scored 18 free-throw shots in the same scenario through the history of the Association.
We’ll see if any Knickerbocker can replicate Grant’s historic night in four months while on the road.